A happy New Year to all of you. I know this is not internet’s most famous blog but some of you might have noticed during the last 3 years that I do less posts per year and with irregular frequency. I just shortly wanted to mention that this is on purpose and due to priorities in life. This is also a good start to come to the real topic: Balance.
In project management, you normally expect the workload to behave analogue to a sine wave: there are times of rising/high load and times of decreasing/low load. Overall the average will be some kind of normal workload. In times with less stress you find some rest, recharge your batteries and maybe get rid of some overtime hours on you HR account. This should be normal and reasonable – from an employee as well as an employer perspective – because ruining your health and delivering bad quality or making lots of mistakes due to being exhausted does no good, neither for you nor your employer.
It gets trickier when we are looking at people who manage multiple projects or big programmes and projects with multiple work streams. It isn’t too unlikely you’ll end up with overlapping sine waves in a permanent crisis mode and constantly high pressure and workload. And then it’s very hard to find some rest.
The bad news is that I don’t have any secret recipe to prevent this from happening. The good news is: it’s all within ourselves. We have to remind ourselves as well as bosses and co-workers that rest and rejuvenation is an essential part of being able to continuously perform on a high level of quality and deliver outstanding results. So we have to prioritize tasks, delegate things as good as possible and stand the truth that we are not able to handle everything in parallel. Some things have to be of lower priority and hence will need a longer period of time before we are able to perform the necessary tasks.
For many high performing managers, this is a strange concept and an uncomfortable feeling to not finish everything by working day and night. Look at it from this perspective: if you constantly work 60-70 hours and give all your energy you will likely lose social contacts, do less sport, eat unhealthy, lose your humour and your inner peace, maybe lose your family because you are never there, lose your health (physically and mentally) and then lose your job because you do a lot of mistakes and just can’t perform on the same level for a longer period of time. So you might have 2 to 4 years of really high performance but at really high cost and – depending on your age – a negative overall balance if you ruined your ability to perform for the next 30 years of your working life. But if you keep a level of high performance which still allows you to do sports, enjoy time with your family, find rejuvenation from the stress and stay healthy you will still be able to perform on a high level, but for a (nearly) unlimited amount of time.